Criminal Defense

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In Jail Call Us: (406) 272-6302

Whether suspected of or charged with one or multiple misdemeanors or felonies–WE CAN HELP YOU! Our attorneys have years of criminal defense experience and were trained in the best prooving grounds, which offers the most trial experience available.

While it’s not our intent to convey that law enforcement are bad people (most are not)–if you’re suspected of or charged with a crime, you CANNOT trust law enforcement. Law enforcement has a job to do, and it is not their job to help you. Their job is to investigate crimes and identify possible suspects. Then, it is a prosecutor’s job to prove your guilt. It is OUR JOB to protect your legal and Constitutional rights, and WE WILL! Never willingly speak to law enforcement about any alleged criminal behavior without FIRST speaking to your attorney and never do so without your attorney present. Also, you need to know that law enforcement are legally allowed to outright lie to you, or anyone else, to try to obtain information for your prosecution. Lying to obtain such information is not illegal for the police to do, and it does not cause that information to be inadmissible in court.

We Take ALL Criminal Cases (read below)

At Mountain State Attorneys, we firmly believe that all people–regardless of what you might be charged with–are innocent until proven guilty and that you are absolutely entitled to legal representation.

We handle felonies and misdemeanors of all types. And, we determine which cases to take (as many as we can dutifully handle)–based on ensuring that we don’t have any conflicts of interest with our clients and potential clients, and in making sure (from a time, scheduling, and availability vantage point) that we can provide what you need, when you need it–in your specific case. Unlike some other firms (potentially), we don’t take every case that comes through the door–because we take steps to ensure that we can handle and provide what is needed in every case. If we can’t handle your case, we will reffer you to very good alternative criminal defense attorneys–at NO COST OR CHARGE!

We Defend Many Types of Cases – But the Following is Information about Some of the Types of Cases we See Most Frequently:

Possession / Distribution of Dangerous Drugs

Possession and especially distribution of dangerous drugs are serious criminal charges. It is easier than most people understand for a person to be charged as a participant in conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs. It is very possible for a person simply buying drugs to be accused of or charged with distribution, depending on the actions of the alleged drug dealer. Legally, for a conspiracy to exist, all that is required is that a person have performed a single substantial act to help or support a larger plan to conduct, accomplish, or assist criminal activity involving multiple people. Legally, it is not required for a person charged with conspiracy to have had knowledge about the rest of the criminal enterprise, who is doing what, or what is being done by others. And, specific intent is not required to be proven.

Drug cases are very complex and often involve people, circumstances, and facts the defendant has no knowledge of. Because of this, drug cases especially require the help of good and competent legal counsel.

Call Us: (406) 272-6302

DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

There is a very common misconception about Montana’s DUI laws, because those laws are quite than in other states. This is that .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is the “legal limit” in Montana. This is NOT correct. There is actually NO “legal limit” in Montana. The Montana DUI laws make it criminal for a person to be in physical control of a motor vehicle while their ability to drive is impaired due to the use of ANY drugs or alcohol.

As an interesting (but VERY IMPORTANT) side note, in Montana, being “in physical control” of a motor vehicle does NOT require the vehicle being turned on, the defendant being inside the vehicle, the defendant having the keys to the vehicle in their immediate possession, or the vehicle being in a running condition or state such that it could be driven in the immediate future. Again, and to be CLEAR–none of these things are required in order for a DUI charge to issue, or for the defendant to be found guilty of DUI. The Montana Supreme Court has defined being “in physical control” of a motor vehicle, in a way that allows for prosecution for DUI even when these types of things are not the case (e.g., the defendant did not have the car keys, the car couldn’t run or be driven, etc.). For these reasons–you should NEVER–EVER–drink inside any vehicle (even if you don’t have the keys, the car is off, or the car can’t run), or be at all impaired (by any alcohol or any drugs (including legal or prescription drugs)) inside any vehicle. By way of example, a person who did NOT drive at all, who drank in a bar, and who slept in a car that can’t currently run–CAN be charged with and convicted of DUI in Montana. In Montana–NEVER mix alcohol and motor vehicles AT ALL, TO ANY DEGREE OR AMOUNT!!!

This means that a person whose ability to drive is impaired (arguably in any amount, or to any degree) is guilty of DUI if they have physical control of a motor vehicle. So, for example, a person could blow a .07 BAC and have a blood test BAC of .06 and still receive a DUI citation and charge, simply because the police officer believes he/she has probable cause to believe that their ability to drive is impaired. In Montana, the only legal significance that .08 BAC has in Montana–is that, whether or not a person is actually impaired–they are legally considered to be per se impaired if their BAC is .08 or higher.

Also, as in many states, your drivers license will be suspended by Montana State (whether you have a Montana State, or an out of state, drivers license), if you refuse to provide the police a breath test. And, if you refuse to give a breath test, but then perform the field sobriety tests (like the walk and turn), you can be charged with DUI based solely on the officer observing your field sobriety tests. This is important because the vast majority of totally sober people–CANNOT pass the field sobriety tests.

For all these reasons, and because a driver’s license is so critical to most people’s productive lives (including avoiding more criminal charges for (at a later time) driving on a suspended or revoked license)–we encourage people to always refuse to do field sobriety tests and to consider whether it is best to refuse (or not refuse) to give a breath test. If you truly need your driver’s license, you must account for the result of loosing your license if you refuse to provide a breath test to the police. And, in Montana, if you have any prior DUIs (from anywhere; not just in Montana)–the police can easily obtain a search warrant to test your BAC by a blood test. For this reason, we often recommend that people agree to provide a breath test to the police if they have any prior DUIs. This is because, with prior DUIs, the police will likely get the BAC evidence anyway (from an involuntary blood test), through a warrant–AND you will ALSO lose your driver’s license for refusing to blow. However, if you have or rely on a CDL (commercial) driver’s license for work or business–you must understand that any DUI evidence against you could affect your CDL, even prior to being convicted. This is another factor that you must consider when stopped for a potential DUI by police, if you have a CDL.

DUI cases are regularly fairly complex, involving the science behind breath test machines, field sobriety tests, and the training and certifications of police officers on these issues. This is why having good compitent legal counsel is so important in the vast majority of DUI cases.

Call Us: (406) 272-6302

Partner Family Member Assault (PFMA)

PFMA is a very serious criminal charge in Montana. Mainly, this is because of what often occurs when charged with PFMA, even as a misdemeanor. Under current law and practices, after a person is charged with PFMA, they will be excluded from seeing or being near the alleged victim, as well as any potential witnesses in the case. This includes the defendant’s own children if the prosecutors believe the children are potential witnesses. This results in a PFMA defendant–prior to being proven guilty–frequently being excluded from their home, ordered to stay away from their own family, and even their own children. And, this continues until the case is concluded, which commonly takes 6 months or more to accomplish. Furthermore, if the prosecution requests, the courts commonly order that the defendant–prior to conviction–be required to pay for (approximately $400 per month) and wear a GPS tracking bracelet. If the prosecution requests this and the defendant cannot afford a GPS monitor, or is unwilling to wear a GPS monitor, prior to conviction–then the defendant is held in jail until the case is concluded.

In Montana State, the PFMA laws require law enforcement to investigate and initially determine who the “predominate aggressor” was, anytime physical harm was caused to a family member or anytime a family member is caused “reasonable apprehension (fear) of physical harm.” And, the laws require that the predominate aggressor be arrested by the police, once identified. In other words, if harm or fear of harm is reported to the police, they must investigate and arrest someone. Usually, this will be a male, if the incident involved a male and a female. In part, this is because the PFMA laws include differences in physical size (of the people involved in the incident), as a factor for the police to consider when determining who the predominate aggressor is/was.

If you are charged with Partner Family Member Assault, it is very important that you have good legal counsel representing you.

Call Us: (406) 272-6302